Dušan Šarotar was born in Murska Sobota, Slovenia in 1968. He is a writer, poet and screenwriter. He studied Sociology of Culture and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana. He has published three novels (Island of the Dead, 1999, Billiards at the Hotel Dobray, 2007, Stay with me, 2011), three collections of short stories (Blind Spot, 2002, Bed and Breakfast, 2003 and Nostalgia, 2010) and three poetry collections (Feel for the Wind, 2004, Landscape in Minor, 2006 and The House of My Son, 2009). Šarotar also writes puppet theatre plays and is author of fifteen screenplays for documentary and feature films, mostly for television. The author’s poetry and prose have been included into several anthologies and translated into Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, Polish, Italian, Czech and English. In 2008, the novel Billiards at the Hotel Dobray was nominated for the national Novel of the Year Award. There will be a feature film based on this novel filmed in 2013.
Now that everything has settled down, as among brothers, and the last birds had flown away far into the heart of the country, it all appeared all the more unreal. Poppies blossomed in unmowed acacia groves, the stone glowed in the early summer sun, the bees grazed elder blossoms and the water of the forgotten brook flowed persistently into the unknown. Everything was as it had always been, and yet, in that tiny grey cloud floating in the stillness of the afternoon, there was something about it that could be grasped by the attentive eye. All that seeming loftiness, false absence sketched into this beautiful landscape, bore witness of pain, of the loneliness of man who created these perfect colours.
There is no echo here, and nothing comes back. Here everything slowly drifts towards the horizon. Only now and then would someone let it slip that he had seen the river stopping, slowing down its eternal current and for a moment, as if lost in thoughts, turning against the current. They say that’s where whirlpools form. All that is above, the shimmer of light, the shadows of clouds, is pulled down towards the dark and cold ground. And all that the river has carried and hidden in itself for a long time suddenly floats to the surface. Those who have witnessed such beauty know they have to keep quiet about it.
When you’re not here and return so very rarely, you feel that nothing ever changes here. You can still feel the bygone wind blowing balloons on Sundays, spreading the fragrance of corn on the cob and gingerbread from behind the old church. You carry within you images of funny old men and the sparkling eyes of old women in their old-fashioned blouses. Their clenching wooden hands watching over tiny purses where they keep a penny for mass and another one for candy. Lonely old ladies, gathered for the sermon, marvel at children as they play boisterously at cat and mouse among the crowd. Beside the road, on the other side, market stalls with black dresses, water pistols, plastic jewellery and battery-powered watches. With gypsies be- hind the counters, dressed in their Sunday’ best, counting money with cigarettes hanging from their mouths. From the speakers, hanging in the trees, a dull voice rings out, disturbing no one, least of all those looking around for children lost in the crowd. In the first row someone mourns the loss of his relative, and, on the other side, men stand under a tree drinking beer, behind the church boys chat bashfully with girls from the neighbouring village, high above in the belfry pigeons sit, bobbing their tiny little heads as if they were the only ones who understood the words carried by the wind into the sky.